President Joe Biden’s decision to skip the memorial sites on the 22nd anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks has left families of the victims and the nation divided. In a historic departure from tradition, President Biden neither spent the day at an attack site nor at the White House, a move that has elicited strong reactions from various quarters.
The White House sent Vice President Kamala Harris to New York City to attend events at the National September 11 Memorial on the President’s behalf. President Biden cited his busy schedule, including meetings with foreign leaders during his overseas trip to India and Vietnam, as the reason for his absence from the memorial sites this year.
Retired Air Force Lt. Col. Donald Arias, who lost his brother Adam during the attacks, expressed his lack of surprise at President Biden’s decision. In an interview with “Fox & Friends First,” Arias remarked, “It’s no surprise to me that he’s not coming to Ground Zero or any of the 9/11 sites. And quite frankly, I prefer he stay away anyway. We can do without his stories of how he can relate, like he did with the people of Lahaina, how he can relate because of a kitchen fire. We can do without that.”
President Biden is currently en route to Washington, D.C. after his international trip, with a scheduled stop at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage, Alaska, where he is set to deliver a speech. White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre emphasized in a statement that President Biden believes it is crucial to give a speech in Alaska while returning from his global trip. She stated, “President Biden plans to honor the lives lost and the families of loved ones who still feel the pain of the terrible day. This is something he feels is very important to do. We can only imagine the heartbreak and pain that the 9/11 families have felt every day for the past 22 years.”
Terry Strada, who lost her husband Tom in the World Trade Center attack, harshly criticized President Biden’s decision, saying it was “the opposite of what we’ve all pledged to never forget.” Strada serves as the chair of 9/11 Families United, a coalition of families and survivors of the attacks who advocate for keeping the memory of the victims alive and for full transparency regarding the events of that day.
Matt Bocchi, the son of 9/11 victim John Bocchi, viewed President Biden’s departure from tradition as indicative of the “unfortunate reality” of the country’s attitude 22 years later. He commented, “If our leader is so willing to not show up to the memorial service, it’s sending the message that Americans have forgotten, and that it’s OK to forget. Unfortunately for myself and for all the other families and those joining with us this morning, we have no way of forgetting. This is something that forever changed our lives and something that we’re going to live with forever, even if the rest of the country can let this be a day that they do forget.”
The 9/11 attacks, orchestrated by al Qaeda terrorists under the leadership of Osama bin Laden, claimed the lives of 2,977 victims and left an indelible mark on the nation’s security and foreign policy landscape for decades to come.
President Biden’s decision to break with tradition on the 22nd anniversary of 9/11 has ignited a heated debate. While some argue that his absence is a sign of disrespect to the victims and their families, others point to his commitments abroad and the importance of addressing pressing global issues. The divide over this decision underscores the enduring impact of the 9/11 attacks and the complex emotions surrounding the annual memorial.
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